It’s the beginning of a new year. Time for a fresh start and new beginnings. Many of you may have already made your New Year’s resolutions, while the rest of you may resolve to never make one. Chances are, if you live in the United States and made a resolution, it has something to do with slimming down and working out. Some of you may actually stick to this beyond the 3rd week of January, and to you, we say congratulations. The other 92 percent of us (yup, you read that right, only eight percent of people will actually achieve their resolutions) should perhaps take some time to reflect back on a few simple habits we can change to improve our better overall health in 2016 without making drastic changes to our lifestyles.
1. Take a hiatus from high heels. Many of you who have ever visited our office may find this particular suggestion ironic, but ladies, as difficult as it is to say, or even fathom for that matter, let’s resolve to make 2016 the year of the flats. Or at least the year of high heels in moderation. Oddly enough those fashionable and glorious high heels, that sometimes become part of your identity, can actually affect your health; trust me, we did our research before admitting to it. Our feet are the foundation of our bodies, and if not properly supported, they can cause ailments all the way up into our necks. More than 100,000 emergency room visits per year are a result of high heel related injuries; and, unfortunately, even high heels can’t make a hospital gown look sexy. That being said, if you feel the desire to wear heels, consider having a pair of comfortable more practical shoes as a back up should you need to walk long distances, or stand more than you had expected during the day. Beauty hurts, but your feet shouldn’t have to.
2. Stop snoozing. Everyone knows sleep is important. Too much or too little can lead to chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. But did you know the snooze button is a dangerous habit that causes fragmented sleep and a buildup of frustration? Perhaps you feel like you’re beating the system by setting your alarm early, just so you can snooze a few times; those few brief moments of disrupted sleep are decreasing the benefits of an entire night of rest, which in the long run, will leave you more tired than if you had just gotten up with your alarm the first time. So go ahead and change the alarm for the time you actually need to wake up, and stop snoozing. Trust us, your non-snoozing significant other will thank you.
3. Sitters please rise. A majority of us have jobs that require us to sit for most of the day. This sedentary lifestyle can actually be worse for you than smoking, increasing your risk for heart disease and depression. If you have a desk job, try to stand as often as possible, for example, instead of scooting your chair over to the printer behind your desk, stand up and grab those copies; consider standing while you eat your lunch; and make an effort to take occasional strolls, whether it be inside or out, it is better than sitting. It is recommended that you stand about two hours during your work day, preferably in intervals; and no, your visit to the gym at the end of the day does not reverse your eight hours of sitting.
4. Stop isolating your anti-social self. Being lonely can increase your risk of death by up to 14 percent, according to recent studies. The lonelier we are, the greater the negative effects. Not only can this lead to mental issues, such as depression, it can also cause inflammation, which can disrupt our immune system and increase our likelihood of getting sick. While you may enjoy some “me time”, make sure to be aware of the amount of time you’re spending alone. Try to surround yourself with friends and/or family on a regular basis to fend off that lonely blue robe that may be trying to creep its way into your life.
5. Shift your work snack focus. While in most cases, our work hours cannot be changed, people who work nights, or irregular hours, tend to get less sleep. This lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and metabolic disorders. Many studies have shown that shift work employees have poor eating habits, consuming more fat than vegetables. Unfortunately, changing your work hours is unlikely, however, you can change your habits. Avoid the break room vending machine by preparing meals at home and keep them in the refrigerator at work. Choose water over soda and other sugary drinks.
6. Ditch your midlife midsection. Perhaps it snuck up on you, or perhaps as you look back at your younger, slender years, you realize maybe you weren’t as proactive as you could have been in preventing the formation of belly blubber. Either way, the older you get, the more difficult it is to get rid of, but don’t stop trying, because excess belly fat has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, along with many other chronic health conditions. Tweak your exercise routine to help bust through the excess fat, substituting crunches and sit-ups with planks. Avoid packaged and processed foods, and foods high in transfats, or containing GMOs or high corn fructose syrup ; instead, increase your intake of seafood and greens and consider following a Mediterranean diet, not because I am from there, but because research shows it is one of the healthiest!
Whether you’re health conscious all year long, aiming to kick bad habits with the New Year, or just looking for a few simple changes to make in your life, we recommend starting with simple steps.